Media and Violence

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The relationship between media violence and its harmful effects on children has been strongly supported. What exactly is media violence? Critics of television violence research note that media violence experts measure television violence differently. George Gerbner of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication measures most acts of violence equally, whether accidental or intentional. The National Coalition on Television Violence weighs violence so a minor act like shoving counts as one-third of an act of violence while murder accounts for one and two-thirds act of violence. In 1950, 10% of American homes had a television and by 1960 that percentage had grown to 90%. Today 99% of American homes have a television set and 54% of U.S children have a television set in their bedrooms. So the question is “Is Media Violence Harmful to Our Children?” W. James Potter, from – On Media Violence (Sage, 1999) believes it is. The opposition on the other hand Jib Fowles, from “The Case of Television Violence (Sage, 1999) does not. My opinion is that it does. I will present evidence that media violence does harm our children.

“The NAEYC condemns the violent television programming, movies, videotapes, computer games, and other forms of media directed at children. They further believe it is the responsibility of parents and public media to protect children from unnecessary and potentially harmful exposure to violence through the media and to protect children from television content and advertising practices that exploit their vulnerability” (Huston, Watkins, and Kunkel, 1989). Research has concluded that television watching does indeed have a positive and negative affect on children and is considered a highly complex and cognitive activity during which children are actively involved in learning. This further supports their efforts to use the media constructively to expand children’s knowledge and promote development of positive social values. However some argue that the exposure of media violence causes aggression. Others say that the two are associated, but there is no casual connection and still others state that there is no relationship between the two at all. In 1956, researchers compared the behavior of 24 children watching television, half watched a violent episode of the cartoon Woody Woodpecker and the other 12 watched a non-violent cartoon The Little Red Hen. Afterwards the children who watched the violent episode of Woody Woodpecker were observed hitting other children and breaking toys then those that watched the non-violent episode of The Little Red Hen. Six years later, in 1963 professors A. Badura, D. Ross and S. A. Ross studied the effect of exposure to real world violence, television violence and cartoon violence. One hundred preschool children were divided into four groups, the first group watched a real person shout at an inflatable doll while hitting a mallet, the second group watched the same incident on television, the third watched the cartoon version of the same incident and the fourth group watched nothing. Later when all groups were exposed to an frustrating condition, the first three groups that watched the violent situations responded with aggression while the group that watched nothing did not. More importantly the children that watched the televised incident were just as aggressive as those that watched the indicted of the real person using the mallet. The following statistics show the harmful effects television violence has on children and their education (US Dept. of Education. “Strong Families, Strong Schools, Building Community Partnerships for Learning.” 1994.) 1) Average number of hours per week that American one year-old children watch television: 6 2) Number of hours recommended by the American Pediatric Association for children two and under: 0

3) Average time per week that the American...
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